As I discussed in the Storify curation entitled Will @ShavarJeffries chicken out? Shaver Jeffries, President of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), popped into a conversation about charter schools on Twitter.
Who are the DFERs? Go here.
After he went for a few tweets about parents and choice that most could probably conjure without even having seen them, I challenged him to a debate on choice. Shavar said he would and needed to check his “West coast” schedule. I then offered to pay his way.
Then he said I should show up in Newark. So I offered him dates, October 9 or 10 to be exact. Today he tweeted this:
I understand his nervousness. It’s rare that education reformers arguments for anti-democratic, top-down, private control and privatization of our public schools are subjected to a balancing perspective in the media and elsewhere. He may have reviewed my prior discussions about charters with Michelle Rhee (here). Or watched my conversation with Steve Perry, charter operator and neoliberal media contributor, at the 2016 National Urban League Convention here:
Or maybe he listened to this week’s live radio discussion with Howard Fuller, Chair of the Walton and Gates funded Black Alliance for Educational Options,
After he backed out, I let Shavar off easy. Well, fairly easy. I’d like to do a few thank you’s along the way.
One of the most important volunteer roles that I treasure in my life is being a founding board member of the Network for Public Education. It’s been an incredible experience since that day four years ago I was on Diane Ravitch’s sofa in Brooklyn and she asked if I would join the NPE Board of Directors. It’s been such an honor working with Carol Burris, Anthony Cody, Leonie Haimson, Mark Miller, Jitu Brown, Phyllis Bush, Bertis Downs, Xian Barrett, Yohuru Williams, Robin Hiller, Sonya Horsford, Chris Howard, and many others. Thank you Network for Public Education!
Another volunteer role that I treasure is working with the BadAss Teachers. There is a popular hip hop song called Down in the DM— which means allot happens in Direct Messages on social media. I often work late into the night with the BadAss Teachers on various projects. We do most of that work via DMs on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you Badass Teachers!
As an academic, another role that I have treasured over the years is my work with the National Education Policy Center (NEPC). As a fellow, I have published two policy briefs on Teach For America (Teach For America: A review of the evidence (The research that TFA loves to hate…) and Teach For America: A Return to the Evidence (The Sequel). I have also peer reviewed various other projects for the NEPC. What many people might not know is that Kevin Welner is a fount of information and input for me. Kevin always takes my calls and has sage advice. Before the recent 2016 Urban League Convention in Baltimore, we talked on the phone about the CREDO charter schools studies (just in case Steve Perry tried to bring them up like he did in his NewsOne conversation). Perry didn’t, so those critiques stayed in my pocket. Kevin called me back even though he was at a carnival with his family. Not only is Kevin a good colleague, but he is a friend. Thank you Kevin Welner and NEPC!
Before I moved back to California…Gary Bledsoe, President of the Texas NAACP, told me that Alice Huffman, President of the California NAACP, was a powerful leader and I needed to be in touch with her as soon as possible. She is. The first month I was back in California, I called her and she invited me to lunch. She then asked me to facilitate a discussion at the California NAACP annual leadership retreat. The rest is history. She has adopted me like a grandson since my arrival in California. Honestly, she reminds me so much of my grandmother Z. Louise Scott that I mentioned during my SOS speech at the Lincoln Memorial this summer— it even makes me a little emotional.
I’ve never told Ms. Huffman that, so shhhhhhhh, don’t tell her. Last year, when she asked me to run for Education Chair of the California NAACP, I determined that I would do everything in my power to ensure students of this state knew that the California NAACP has their back.
One other thank you. I want to thank Melissa Harris-Perry and her producer (who I thanked in a DM on Facebook this week) for providing visibility to our scholarship on charters that isn’t what you typically see in the mainstream media.
And, finally, we have a brand new piece coming out in a Stanford law review examining new data on charter schools and segregation in a post-Brown v Board era. I promised Shavar on Twitter I’d send him a copy.
I was going to end there. But reactions on Twitter to Shavar Jeffries backing out are coming in. Here are just a couple.
Thanks for letting me share my thank yous and a little humor (at the expense of the DFERs) with you today.
For more on what’s going wrong with charters click here.
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